More News:

May 29, 2024

Bensalem's red-light cameras issued a 'shocking' number of warnings during their grace period, police say

Beginning Saturday, violators will be given $100 tickets for running lights at two busy intersections. Township officials hope the technology mitigates crashes.

Transportation Traffic
Bensalem Red Lights Bensalem Police/Facebook

Bensalem Township has new red-light cameras at the intersections of Street and Knights roads, and Route 1 and Old Lincoln Highway. Starting Saturday, violators will be fined $100.

The 60-day grace period for red-light cameras placed at two busy intersections in Bensalem Township ends Saturday. And if the last two months are any indication, thousands of people soon could be be hit with $100 tickets.

The automated cameras are installed in all four directions at Street and Knights roads – an intersection within a mile of the Philadelphia Mills mall that has long been considered among the most dangerous in the country. At the intersection of Route 1 and Old Lincoln Highway, cameras are installed in the northbound and southbound lanes of Route 1. 

The high number of crashes at both intersections necessitated red-light cameras to calm traffic, Bensalem officials said. In the last 10 years, there have been 64 crashes at Street and Knight roads and 79 crashes at Route 1 and Old Lincoln Highway.

Since the start of the grace period on April 1, there have been more than 7,500 warnings issued at the intersections. About 5,200 of the warnings were given during the first month, and roughly 75% happened at Street and Knights roads.

"The number is huge and shocking to everyone, including the police department," Bensalem Police Sgt. Glenn Vandegrift said.

Drivers who run red lights will be mailed $100 civil penalties after the grace period ends at 12:01 a.m. Saturday. The fines do not affect driving records, insurance rates or licenses for commercial drivers.


Posted by Bensalem Police on Friday, May 24, 2024

Each violation will be reviewed by a Bensalem officer. Fines will be mailed within 30 days of the violation. The notices will contain a website where drivers can view photographs and videos from their violations. Penalties can be paid online, by phone or by mail. The notices also will come with instructions for how to contest the fine at an in-person hearing at the Bensalem Township Municipal Building.

Signs are posted at intersections approaching those where the cameras are installed to warn drivers that they are nearing an enforcement zone.

Township officials said the red-light camera program will not generate revenue for Bensalem. Fines are collected to cover operating costs for equipment and enforcement personnel only.

In recent years, Bensalem police have dedicated more officers to patrolling the areas around the two intersections. The department will maintain a presence at the intersections, but police hope the cameras will free up more officers to handle other investigations and police work. 

Critics of red-light cameras contend the technology has been misused in many communities, raising concerns about privacy and whether police are using the license plate data they collect for purposes other than traffic enforcement. Red-light cameras in some locations also are controversial because they're perceived as profit-driven revenue sources for local governments that may be tempted to adjust the way traffic lights are timed to trigger more violations. In Pennsylvania, the law requires PennDOT to set a standard for yellow-light intervals that prevents tampering with them to increase violations.

The National Motorists Association argues that fines from red-light cameras are regressive and target lower-income residents, among other objections to the technology.

Studies have found conflicting data on whether red-light cameras improve road safety at intersections where they're installed. One long-term study of red-light cameras in Texas concluded that the cameras reduce the number of cars that run red lights, but they may increase the risk of rear-end accidents or crashes caused by people stopping suddenly to avoid violations.

Another study in Texas — which has among the most red-light cameras in the U.S. — found the technology led to an 11% reduction in crashes at 275 intersections. There was a 32% decline in T-bone crashes, which are considered higher-risk collisions for injury and death. Proponents also credit red-light cameras with improving safety for pedestrians and cyclists at dangerous intersections.

Bensalem's red-light camera program takes effect as Philadelphia weighs expanding the use of speed cameras, which are designed to detect drivers who exceed the posted speed limit rather than enforce traffic lights. A law passed in Pennsylvania in December will allow Philadelphia to put speed cameras on five additional corridors beyond the program the city implemented on Roosevelt Boulevard in 2020.